(MISCELLANY). POLWHELE, Richard. ~ Grecian Prospects: a Poem, in Two Cantos. By Mr. Polwhele. Helston: Printed by T. Flindell; for Cadell and Davies, in the Strand, and Chapple, Pall-Mall, London. 1799.
pp. , 61, , Jackson, p. 234; not in Johnson;
[bound with:] -------- The unsex’d Females: a Poem, addressed to the Author of The Pursuits of Literature. London: Printed for Cadell and Davies. 1798. pp. 37, , Jackson, p. 230;
[and after:] TOWNSHEND, Thomas. Poems... London: Printed by T. Bensley, for E. and S. Harding... 1796. pp. vii, , 112,, 14 engraved headpieces and 14 tailpieces, all after Thomas Stothard, but bound without the engraved plate. Jackson, p. 211.
3 works bound in one, 8vo (180 × 105 mm); contemporary tree calf, spine gilt with red morocco label; some neat later pencil annotation.
An exceptionally pretty verse miscellany, containing first editions of both the Polwhele works. The Cornish writer’s Grecian Prospects is by the far the rarest item here, with ESTC locating copies at Bodley, Exeter College (Oxford), Columbia, Harvard and Huntington anly (plus two copies of a variant London issue of the same year). The introductory analysis explains the poem’s ambitious premise: ‘A Welsh bard, in the isle of Lesbos, is enamoured with an extensive and beautiful prospect, which he contemplates till the approach of night... He then laments the ruins of art at Athens, Corinth, Sparta, and the Grecian isles, Delos, Teios..... imagines nature languishing from neglect in sympathy with art...’ Grecian Prospects is without the advertisement leaf found in the Bodley copy, it is not present in either the Harvard or Huntington copies.
The Unsex’d Females debates (in verse) the role of women in society and is addressed to satirist and Italian scholar Thomas James Mathias (’Author of The Pursuits of Literature’). It is a stinging anti-feminist attack on ‘a female bank, despising NATURE’s law’, with a bitter and personal diatribe against Mary Wollstonecraft (which draws heavily on Godwin’s Memoirs which Polwhele had reviewed for the Anti-Jacobin). Barbauld, Mary Robinson, Charlotte Smith, Helen Williams, Mary Hays, Hannah More, Elizabeth Montagu, Fanny Burney and Anna Seward are also mentioned. It was reprinted by Cobbett in New York in 1800.
Opening the volume is the 1796 edition of Townshend’s Poems, the first to include the sequence of charming vignettes after Stothard (it had appeared unillustrated in a Dublin edition of 1791..